Red Sox notes: First inning woes not just for Beckett

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Red Sox notes: First inning woes not just for Beckett

BOSTON The Blue Jays scored two first-inning runs, proving to be all they would need on their way to a 6-1 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Josh Beckett has now given up 19 earned runs in the first innings of his 16 starts for a 10.69 ERA. But, its a disturbing trend that has plagued the rotation this season.

Red Sox starters have allowed at least one run in the first inning of 16 of their last 19 games at Fenway Park since June 10, including 11 of their last 12. Overall this season, the staffs first-inning ERA is 6.70, giving up a total of 70 earned runs in the 94 games. That is nearly three runs higher than all subsequent innings combined, when they have a 3.80 ERA, giving up 318 earned runs in 752 23 innings.

Carl Crawford went 1-for-4 and has hit safely in all five games since coming off the disabled list Monday night. He is hitting .389 (7-for-18) with three stolen bases and six runs scored.

Jacoby Ellsbury went 1-for-4 and has hit safely in six of his eight games since coming off the DL July 13. Since then he is batting .343 (12-for-35) raising his season average from .192 to .279.

Adrian Gonzalez went hitless for just the second time in 25 games. He snapped his five game hitting streak since the All-Star break.

Closer Andrew Bailey, who has been on the disabled all season after surgery on his right thumb, had a bullpen session Friday afternoon, throwing about 38 pitches. He is scheduled for another bullpen session Sunday, and could pitch some batting practice Wednesday when the Red Sox are in Texas.

Left-hander Rich Hill, on the 60-day disabled list with a left elbow strain, is throwing long toss from flat ground and is pain-free. He is getting close to throwing from a mound.

Aaron Laffey has now pitched 13 scoreless innings against the Sox, including his six-inning outing June 26 at Fenway. Since 1980, he is just the second pitcher to record multiple scoreless outings of at least 6.0 innings in the same season on the road at Fenway, along with Scott Kazmir with the Rays in 2007. Laffey and Kazmir are just the second lefties to do so since the Philadelphia As Lefty Grove did so in 1931.

Boston pitchers strike out 14, but Red Sox still fall to Rays, 7-3

Boston pitchers strike out 14, but Red Sox still fall to Rays, 7-3

The appearance of Tampa Bay Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough almost got the Boston Red Sox back in their spring training exhibition game. The Sox managed to score all three of their runs against the 25-year-old in their 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida on Sunday.

But the Rays, who scored runs in five different innings, managed to widen their lead in the eighth inning by beating up on Sox lefty Luis Isla, a 24-year-old who spent last season with Portland and Pawtucket. In the eighth, Rays' Joe McCarthy homered and Luke Maile managed an RBI single, which cappped off the scoring in the contest. Sox starter Hector Velazquez allowed three hits and an earned run in his two innnings. The 28-year-old, who spent 2016 in the Mexican League, still managed to amass four strikeouts.

"I was a little nervous at the start, being in the United States for the first time and playing for a big league club for the first time," Velazquez told RedSox.com through an interpreter. "But once I got the first out, all the nerves went away, and I was able to bear down."

Despite allowing two homers, Boston pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts.

With the exception of the Sox' inning against Yarbrough, Boston's veterans and prospects struggled mighltily against the Rays pitching staff. Chris Archer started for Tampa, and set the tone in the first two innings, where he threw two strikeouts, one walk and allowed one hit and no runs. Andrew Benintendi (0-for-3), Sam Travis (0-for-2) and Bryce Brentz (0-for-3) went hitless on the day. Travis, however, reached base on balls.

"I felt good. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," Archer said, via the Red Sox' team website. "Just out there having fun, it was really fun to be out there in the spectrum with the umpire, the fans, the batter. It was fun."

Marco Hernandez's triple got the Sox' eighth-inning off to a strong start, and singles from Matt Dominguez, Deven Marrero, Rusney Castillo and Cole Sturgeon followed. The Sox' eighth inning scoring ended after Castillo got thrown out by left fielder McCarthy at third. Six Red Sox finished with one-hit outings, including Brock Holt and Blake Swihart.

The Sox will next host the St. Louis Cardinals in Fort Myers on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET.